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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Mad Spring Dash Surges Forward

Sunday the sun shone, and the water in the bay was several colors of vivid blue, with sharp lines of demarcation at depth changes. No leaves on the trees yet, giving a clear view into any stand of woods to the bright green floor of wild leeks and spring wildflowers. We worked out in our yard for a while, making inroads against invasive popples and wild grapevines, drove to Suttons Bay for ice cream, came home and worked some more. It was a good day.

Monday morning as Sarah and I were on our way out to the woods, a few soft clouds moved in to obscure the sun. Trillium on the verge of opening was biding its time. Also, though I saw many, the ones I inspected all seemed to have that bright green striping indicating a virus.

Yes, toothwort, a member of the mustard family, is edible, and cruciforms are good for you, but who could harvest any plant after reading a description such as this? The mere words "spring ephemeral" dispose one to feel protective, don't they?

Then there was this little beauty:

The sweet troutlily had cast its shadow on its own leaf, momentary sunlight creating the effect.

Out in the open, again under clouds, a forsythia border provided the cheeriness of sunlight.

When human habitations are left to fall apart, it’s the roofs that fall in. Birds’ homes, by contrast, give way at the bottom, but this nest of grass and birchbark must have been perfect for raising last year’s brood. Even now, inhabitable without repair, it’s beautiful.

We had an appointment in Traverse City, the sun came out for the day as we drove south, and by the time we were returning home the edges of all the woods showed happy trillium faces open to the light. An Australian friend writes to tell me that trillium is the official wildflower of Ontario. I like that. Anyway, the brief, mad, dashing Up North sprint of the spring wildflowers is underway, and the pollinators (to see another one up close, visit my photo blog) couldn’t be happier. Neither could I.

This morning’s wind woke me early with the false dawn, and I reached for Wendell Berry’s Three Short Novels to start the day with Nathan Coulter. We’re going to have rain in northern Michigan today, so making a mental trip to the Ohio River under summer sunshine feels like a very good idea.
I stood in the patch of sun in front of the window and began puting on my clothes. The day was already hot. Hens were cackling, and a few sparrows fluttered their wings in the dust in front of the barn. I watched our milk cows wade into the pond to drink. Over Grandpa’s ridge I could see where the road came up from the river and went into Port William.

- Wendell Berry, Nathan Coulter

If you don't know the name Wendell Berry, read this story. Then come into Dog Ears, and I'll introduce you to some of his books. He is definitely on my hero list, and that list doesn't have a lot of names on it.


Gerry said...

A mental trip to the Leelanau was a good idea, too. Nice crop of wildflowers you have over there today, and Wendell Berry is always nutritious and tasty. I didn't stop for photos, but spring beauty finally carpets the woods here, and the trillium were in full flower on the Old State Road. Good to see, good to see.

P. J. Grath said...

It's fun to visit across Grand Traverse Bay, isn't it, Gerry? And I am so pleased that Wendell Berry was awarded the National Humanities Medal. Can't think of anyone who deserves it more.

Dawn said...

Never saw a trillium just starting to bloom..interesting shape...didn't know about the virus either. AND don't know about Wendell Berry. So much to explore.

P. J. Grath said...

Dawn, I was wondering if I’d get any flak for catching a trillium in such an improbable form. Different, anyway. For a long time, the plants affected (and infected) by the virus were thought to be a different variety. The effect (spellers, take note!) is interesting and appealing.

Wendell Berry writes poetry, essays (often on agriculture) and fiction. Choose whichever genre you like best to introduce yourself to his work. He is a writer for many moods.